The DLSU Men’s Football team prevailed over the NU Bulldogs to remain undefeated in the second round of the UAAP Season 79 Men’s Football Tournament yesterday at the Moro Lorenzo field in Ateneo. Nace Gonzales provided the winning goal for the Lasallians with a spectacular finish coming from a cross from Marcus Garcia during the 12’ mark.
Dominating first half
NU kicked off the match, but La Salle dictated the early stages of the game offensively. As a result, the Lasallians earned an early corner kick, which was unsuccessful. The Bulldogs answered back with a run down the left wing by Elmer Sampaga, whose cross found Marvin Viray. However, the latter’s shot was wide as he wasted what could have been the first goal of the match for NU.
However, it was DLSU who drew first blood. Just a few minutes later, Marcus Garcia broke free down the right wing and found Gonzalez as he sent the ball to the back of the net. La Salle’s defense, anchored by Johoguev Ybanez and Noel Brago, suffocated NU’s frontline as the Bulldogs struggled to run their plays.
In his return from injury, Gelo Diamante provided more fluidity to the offense of the Green-and-White. The Lasallians broke down the Bulldog defense, hence creating a handful of scoring chances. A combination play by Gonzales and G. Diamante in the 31st minute led to a chance which Garcia failed to capitalize on. Afterwards, G. Diamante’s shot attempt setup by Gonzales went straight into the hands of NU goalkeeper Chris Perocho.
During the 33’ mark, a handball was called against a Bulldog as Juan Siggaoat’s shot attempt sailed over the crossbar. NU’s best opportunity in the first half was a free kick from Marvin Viray, whose attempt was deflected by DLSU goalkeeper Kerbi Almonte.
Pressure-packed second half
The succeeding half featured a series of attacks from NU which were contained by the Green-and-White. DLSU carried on its aggressive play behind Diamante and Siggaoat. The prior managed to setup Siggaoat a one-on-one chance against Perocho with a through ball. However, Perocho caught the shot with ease.
La Salle utilized its bench during the latter part of the second half. Jose Montelibano came in for Yoshi Koizumi while Matt Custodio and Rigo Joseph came in for G. Diamante and Joseph.
The eagerness of the Bulldogs to equalize became evident during the last 30 minutes of play as they took over ball possession. Dangerous free kicks from Lawrence Colina and Viray were eventually denied by Almonte. The prior was unable to replicate his hat-trick in their last outing against La Salle, while the latter squandered his chances.
Towards the end of the match, the Lasallians carelessly gave up multiple NU free kicks within striking distance, but managed to hold on and earn their third win in four games.
Head coach Hans Smit commended NU after a hard-fought match. “A win is a win. NU is not a pushover team, they hustle a lot, they’re a good team.”
As to their next game, he is confident in facing the defending champions, the UP Fighting Maroons. “I don’t care who we play. We’re in a tournament, you don’t choose your opponents, so we just prepare for them.”
La Salle will square off with the Fighting Maroons on Sunday, April 2, at 5 pm in the Rizal Memorial Stadium.